Trade Show Displays That Make a Big Splash on a Small Budget

Trade show displays are a great way to promote your products and services. Here are some tips for creating and promoting trade show displays on a budget.

Standout trade show displays can bring more prospects your way, but a budget-conscious small business might balk at paying for a big, elaborate display. How can you make your presence known at a trade show, without spending a lot on flashy displays?

Try these ideas for making your company memorable, regardless of budget:

Find Your Hook

Attract positive attention by giving attendees a great reason to stop and linger at your booth — a unique experience that will surprise them and draw them in. This should ideally be related to your offering, such as a demonstration of your product or an offer for attendees to try it out themselves.

If your offering is impossible to bring to a trade show floor in an engaging way, you may have to get creative. Consider some of the more approachable aspects of your business and create a fun contest or a quiz to have passers-by test their knowledge. For instance, an IT services company could have a five-question "Can you spot the phishing email?" quiz. Or, a company that provides energy assessments for homeowners could have a "Test your solar energy knowledge" game that highlights the lesser-known aspects of solar energy.

These interactions make your business more memorable, and they can also help spark conversations that lead to deeper connections. Make sure to keep these demonstrations or quizzes brief — no more than two minutes.

Create Simple, Clear Visuals

Once you know what your booth's main attraction will be, you can create the visual background to support your efforts. Start with basics: A simple table throw and banner display at eye level to feature your logo, colors and branding. Create your takeaway sheets and business cards to highlight a simple, clear marketing message. Offering branded giveaways and other promotional products can further enhance a relatively simple display.

Then, build trade show materials to support your interactive features. Create a poster that promotes your quiz or demonstration, plus any printed materials you need to bring that idea to life. Your interactive element may also deserve a takeaway sheet — for instance, the IT services company may provide a "how to fight phishing" brochure with valuable tips taken from the quiz. That will help further establish your expertise and keep you in attendees' minds long after the event.

Drive Trade Show Attendees' Interest in Advance

Trade show displays get more traction if you get some early buzz about your presence at the show. In many cases, trade show sponsors will share a list of people who have signed up to attend — get this list and send a carefully crafted email in advance to alert prospective attendees to your display (and promote your contest, demo or quiz). Share your plans on social media and encourage retweets. The trade show is likely to have a dedicated hashtag used in its promotion, so don't forget to use it.

Trade show displays that use creative ideas can attract a crowd, even without a lot of money behind the effort. Simple displays can be surprisingly effective if they're clear and professional-looking, and some extra effort on your part can make the company stand out.